EDITORIAL: Local talent shows offer everyone a chance to shine

  • Posted: 3/3/2013 4:00 PM
    6/1/2013 5:57 PM

Talent shows as a whole have had their definitions diluted to an extent in recent years. With the public looking at big-time mega hits, such as "The X Factor" and "America's Got Talent," it's easy to forget the local showcases of talent. Oftentimes, these shows are viewed as more of a way for self promotion and getting quick paychecks rather than actually showing the world a talent.With North Augusta Idol right around the corner next month, on March 19 at 7 p.m., there is no better time to really examine what makes a talent show something special. This is especially important for local participants who may not otherwise have a chance to get in front of a crowd or perform on a stage.

"We just really do it to showcase the local talent," Peggy Burnett, the coordinator for N.A. Idol, said. "It originated from the Hampton Terrace days, and we had different music groups come down and perform in the streets of North Augusta, and we always tried to include the schools."

The show focuses on three talent categories: vocal, instrumental and dance. Due to the popularity of "American Idol" at the time, the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council and the City decided to replicate the show a bit in its inception nine years ago. It also gave kids a criticism-free space to get real-world experience and show just what they could do.

Since then, the show has evolved into a massive success to give kids with an interest in the arts that first taste of what it's like to perform.

According to The National Endowment for the Arts' Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, there is trending data that shows a decline in school-based arts education offerings. There have also been long-term patterns of decline since 1985 in music and visual arts. There have been small increases in theater and dance in that same amount of time, but the overall numbers point toward a decline.

The reason for this is due to cuts in school-based art instruction, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.

And there is no better way to introduce children to the arts, and to give them real experiences, than in local talent competitions such as N.A. Idol. It's also a competition that gives kids of all ages a chance, regardless of skill level, at winning prizes and recognition.

"We give the overall prize and we give monetary awards to high school and runner up, middle school and runner up and elementary school and runner up," Burnett said. "And we have had an elementary school winner in the past."

The winner that Burnett is referring to is the 2011 winner, Alice Dyches, from Hammond Hill Elementary.

Not only does the competition invoke some friendly fun, but it also gives past winners a chance to come back and perform once again.

"Soteria Raymond, a winner from last year, is coming back to perform," Burnett said. "And she has gone on, though she's still in middle school, to win the area "X Factor" from Simon Cowell's series. She actually went to New York and almost made it to the round where she would have performed in front of Simon."

The arts have been shown to have a link to a child's development. An April 2007 article from Nature Neuroscience showed that students involved in the arts had higher test scores than those from music-deficient programs, regardless of socioeconomic factors. The arts, and music programs, are becoming a dying field. It's time to reverse that trend, and there is no better way than to support the young musicians and artists of tomorrow.